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The Curse of Shipping Fast

Kevon Cheung

Founder & Head Teacher

Have you ever told yourself,

"Ahh I really need to get this out. Let me set aside time next week and grind this new product out!"?

Oh, if you have, I have some bad news for you.

You might have fallen into the trap of the popular "Ship Fast" principle.

I've been in the startup world all my career, so "move fast & break things" is totally my thing. But I see so many creators take this principle the wrong way.

Before I go on, let me bombard you with a series of events. Do pay attention to the dates.

Apr 5, 2022 : first had the idea of teaching how to build a free email course to draw in raving fans
Jan 19, 2023 : decided to start building it
Feb 3, 2023 : been building in public & getting feedback
 Mar 22, 2023 : started pre-sale
Apr 18, 2023 : filmed the video lessons
May 9, 2023 : created a proper landing page

Looking at this timeline, can you pause for 5 seconds and think about your takeaway? I'll give you some space!

...

...

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I've been in this creator-educator space for 2.5 years now, and often I see creators giving themselves a tight timeline to finish a new product.

For example, "I'll build this freebie in 7 days!" "I'm creating a new course in 3 weeks!"

Once they finish, not only are they exhausted from the intensive sprint, but they are also frustrated that the sales number isn't living up to their expectations.

And then ... they think their ideas SUCK.

And then ... they start doubting themselves again.

Does this sound familiar too?

I'm feeling this urge to call this out because it is simply the wrong approach!

When we say "Ship Fast", it means "Ship Early & Often". The key is to put unfinished products into the hands of real people early to get feedback and quickly get to the next version.

But it is often mistaken as finishing the product quickly, pushing it out, and moving on to something else.

These creators completely ignore the most important part of building high-quality products that make people go raving.

They end up hopping onto that "product building hamster wheel" and always failing to get traction.

So, what is the most important part?

LONGER timeframe

Giving yourself a tight timeline to finish a product means one thing — you're completely keeping your head down in product development mode.

You're in front of your computer writing, typing script, filming, drafting landing page, thinking about pricing etc.

Everything you do is likely with yourself.

How can you sell lemonade if all you do is make lemonade and sit at home?

My principle is to take a LONGER timeframe in creating a new product. And within the timeframe, I ship early & often and I keep looping in my community.

This is why you see I started building Email Course Engine on Jan 19, 2023 and I am only launching it on May 18, 2023 (4 months later!)

I need time to make sure my products are so good that people go crazy about them.

Am I working full-time on this product for 4 months? No way. I have many other things going on.

Here I want to share my top 4 leverages with a LONGER timeframe. They are the key ingredients to a successful launch plus promising ongoing sales for many months or even years to come.

1. LONGER timeframe to market along the way

Have you heard of "build it and they won't come"?

It is so true. True because most creators are stuck in being a builder and have yet to become an entrepreneur.

No matter what you're building, you need to set aside time to build up the awareness.

BUT don't get me wrong. I don't mean giving yourself a few years to ship your product.

Set a reasonable timeframe, like 4 months, not 1 week, to build that info product you've been wanting to do.

2. LONGER timeframe to talk to people & add in what they want

I work with so many students & clients and I notice the more experienced you are on a topic, the harder it is for you to do this.

Because you probably think you have all the answers and you can just go straight into creating the product.

And this is EXACTLY what's blocking most creators to make mind-blowing products — they simply don't know what people want.

So for me, within this timeframe, I'm creating many touch points to talk and work with people:

  1. I tweet things I wasn't sure about and let people offer their views
  2. I do multiple feedback rounds, inviting early adopters in and listening to them
  3. I ship products early for pre-sale buyers so they could get a taste

3. LONGER timeframe to build it in public & plant some seeds

Many of my students enroll in Build in Public Mastery because they don't know what to share.

When you have to rush to finish a new product, it is even harder to share because everything is crammed together.

When you expand the timeframe, you're working on mindful baby steps. The surprising thing is now you have a long runway to talk about your creation.

You don't have to be this annoying creator to stuff promotions into your audience's throat.

You can take your time and share 1-2 things every week. Over time, you're planting the seed of this product in your audience's mind.

There's the Marketing Rule of 7's, meaning "customers need to see your brand at least 7 times before they commit to a purchase decision". Exactly!

4. LONGER timeframe to create momentum towards a launch

The truth is ... most creators don't understand "launching".

It is not simply posting on social media or sending an email.

Other than building in public to meet the Marketing Rule of 7's, you also need to plan a number of things:

  1. What's your pre-launch strategy? How can you get a small group into the door first and excite them?
  2. What's your pricing strategy? Are you increasing the price gradually to drive urgency?
  3. What's your testimonial strategy? Do you have the right reviews by the time you officially launch?

These are just 3 things to strategize, but there are obviously more to contribute to a successful launch.

When is it okay to push yourself to build something quickly?

I’ve heard of a lot of creators doing 12 startups in 12 months or 20 products in 20 weeks etc.

From a long-term perspective, most of these products are doomed to fail because building is the easy part, the hard part is getting traction.

But it is okay if you are aiming for 2 things:

1. You just want to build up a habit of shipping things

You are early in your journey and the fear & imposter syndrome are blocking you.

You want to understand the workflow of ideation to finishing a product.

2. You want to find out what you like to do

What topics do you enjoy covering?

What product types fit you the best? Writing? Courses? Community?

You need to build and experience through it to gain clarity.

So if I can leave you with one final line:

Never ever keep your head down!
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Table of Contents

Build in Public Guide

This free guide has been downloaded over 30,000 times. In 8 short chapters, you’ll learn how to leverage this modern marketing strategy in growing your business and audience in parallel.

Download the Guide

Build in Public Guide

This free guide has been downloaded over 30,000 times. In 8 short chapters, you’ll learn how to leverage this modern marketing strategy in growing your business and audience in parallel.

Download the Guide